You have most likely seen many people with their ears stretched in recent times.
This ancient form of body modification has made a massive comeback. What was once done for religious and traditional is now used as a form of self-expression and an form of body art.
If you have made the decision to go ahead and stretch your ears, you are going to need to know the correct procedure. Stretching your lobes too fast or too big can cause permanent damage to the skin.
Follow this guide to ear stretching for beginners to make sure you are doing it right and not causing yourself any unnecessary damage.
What you need
You can buy complete ear stretching kits with all the items you need. This is usually the cheapest way and can actually save you good money.
If you want to buy the pieces separately then
here is the list of you will need:
- Oil or lubricant
- Steel or titanium tapers. No not use acrylic or any organic materials for stretching. Same applies to plugs.
- No-flare or single-flare plugs
- Anti-bacterial non-scented and non-alcoholic soap
- Saline solution. You can make your own from sea salt and warm water or purchase on the web or from your piercer.
- PTFE or plumber’s tape or bondage tape (this is only needed for stretching to larger sizes)
Make sure you buy your stretching supplies from a reputable source. Also do not use tapers or plugs which have been used by someone else already.
Once you have acquired all the bits and bobs you need you may continue.
Know your gauge sizes
Ear gauging jewelry sizes are measured in Gauges, which range from 20g as the smallest and 00g as they largest. Anything of a larger size than that would be measured in inches or millimetres.
If you are serious about ear stretching you should probably learn the different Gauge sizes.
This will really help you to understand and follow each step of the process as closely as possible.
Here is a chart I made to help you out with learning your gauge sizes:
Ready to get stretching? Here we go then!
Step #1: Figure out your gauge size
Think back to when you got your ears pierced. Was it done with a gun or a needle?
If you got your ears pierced with a gun then your current gauge size would be between 20g and 18g, in this case you should start on a 16g. If a needle was used to pierce your ears, your current gauge would be 16g and you can begin your stretching with a 14g.
Word of advice: If your ear piercing is not completely healed then you should not begin stretching until it is!
Also, wash your hands before you start.
Step #2: Prepare your ear
You need to smother your ear in oil or lube. I recommend you use Jojoba oil, Holey Butt’r or surgical grade lubricants. Any one of these can work well.
Do NOT use any water based lubricants as they can hold bacteria. This includes vasoline and lotion.
Apply the same lube or oil to the taper you will be using. This will help prevent friction between your ear and the taper. Friction can cause pain and other problems.
Step #3: Time to stretch that lobe!
This is the bit you’ve been waiting for!
Now all you need to do is take your lubed up taper and just gently insert it, smaller end first. It should slide in with ease. Keep pushing it until you get to the thickest part. Once it is all the way through to the thickest part,
Do not force it or rush it! Just take your time and pay attention to any signals your body gives you. It might sting a bit but if the pain gets too much you should stop immediately. Severe pain is not normal and may imply that your ear is not ready for stretching.
Step #4: Insert your plug
Tapers are not suitable for day to day wear, they are designed to be used as tools only due to the weight of them, which could cause damage to the skin.
To replace your taper with your plug:
- Align your plug up directly with the thick end of your taper, like it is an attachment.
- Once you have pushed the taper in up to the thickest part you will want to continue to push until it comes out the other end.
- You should still be holding the plug attached to the end of the taper, the plug should go in as the taper comes out.
- Repeat the process for your other ear.
Hopefully you are happy with the plugs you have chosen. If not you will just have to get used to them. You will be leaving these plugs in your ears for at least a month before moving on to the next gauge size.
Step #5: Aftercare
If you have performed your stretch correctly, there should be no need for any immediate aftercare.
A couple of days after the stretch you can massage your ear with a small amount of the oil you used for the stretch. This will help to stimulate blood flow to your ear lobe, therefore assist the healing process.
Do NOT apply alcoholic solutions to your ear as it can cause irritation and slow the healing.
Whilst your ear is healing there should be no bleeding and very little pain. You may feel a slight stinging or tingling sensation, which is not a cause for concern.
If you notice any more serious symptoms, remove the jewelry instantly. Return to you previous gauge size.
Get your timing right
You should wait at least a month before attempting to step up to your next size.
In the mean time, after a couple of weeks you can try out different plugs in your current size. Have some fun with it! You can get some really cool plugs for any size.
Questions and Answers
What is the point of no return?
This is a commonly debated subject but most body modification experts agree that most people can get away with stretching up to a 2 to 0g without permanent damage. Once you stretch your ears beyond 2g to 0g it becomes more difficult for you ears to return to their normal size.
This may vary a bit from person to person. Afterall, everyone’s body works differently!
Also, if you skipped sizes and stretched too fast it will be less likely that you ears return to normal.
Have I got an infection?
If you take your time when stretching your ear and care for it properly the likelihood of infection is very low. It is perfectly normal to experience some redness and swelling whilst a freshly stretched ear is healing.
If your symptoms are worsening or last for more than a week, this may be a sign that your ear is getting infected.
Some of the symptoms to watch out for are:
- Severe pain, redness or swellin, symptoms that persist for more than a week or worsen.
- Oozing yellow, green or grey puss or foul smelling fluids.
- Fever like symptoms such as weakness, dizziness or nausea.
If you happen to experience any of these symptoms you should seek medical help immediately. The infection could cause long-term damage to the skin or worse, spread to other parts of the body.
What types of ear stretching jewelry are there?
About two weeks after your last stretch you can start safely experimenting with different jewelry.
There are many types of jewelry available here are some of the main types:
- Tunnels – When tunnels are worn in a stretched ear you are able to see through the ear lobe. These are more common in larger gauge sizes. These are held in place by two O-rings
- Single flared Earlets – Similar to a tunnel except they are held in place with an O-ring on one side and a flare on the other side.
- Double flare earlets – Do not come with O-rings. Held in place by a flare at each end.
- Plugs – The solid, non-see through option. Held in place by O-rings, much like Tunnels are.
- Flared plugs – Solid piece of jewelry which is kept in the hole via a flare at each end.
I know stretching your ears properly may feel like a slow process.
At least this way you won’t get a nasty infection though!
When you do achieve your goal gauge size you will be proud of yourself for doing it properly. If you rush the process you will end up with a deformed ear and a head-full of regret!
If you have any more questions, feel free to ask in the comments.
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